Province announces new COVID-19 funding available for businesses

ONTARIO – The provincial government is introducing a $10,000 grant for businesses that are subject to closures under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen.

It is also providing lower electricity rates for all businesses, as well as people working from home, during the partial lockdown ordered earlier last week to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant and keep emergency care available.

Businesses eligible for the new Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant include restaurants and bars; facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms); performing arts and cinemas; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, land-marks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; meeting or event spaces; tour and guide services; conference centres and convention centres; driving instruction for individuals; and before- and after-school programs.

Payments will be made in February.

Businesses that previously received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and are now forced to close again do not need to apply to the new program. They will automatically be pre-screened to verify eligibility. Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks.

As of Jan. 18, the province will lower electricity rates to the off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt hour – less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate – for a period of 21 days.

Also on Jan. 18, applications will open for the previously announced Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, which will provide eligible businesses currently forced to close or reduce capacity with rebates for property taxes and energy costs.

Under the program, eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs.

A complete list of eligible businesses will be provided prior to the launch of the application portal on Jan. 18.